Writing Quote

"Don't write merely to be understood.
Write so that you can't possibly be misunderstood."
-Robert Louis Stevenson

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"I give you books, and give you books...

...and all you do is eat the covers." When I was growing up, my dad used to say that whenever we were complaining too much. And though I've never actually eaten the cover of a book, they are delightful in their own way. I like to browse the firstreads give-aways on goodreads.com and occasionally enter a drawing or two to win a free book. Each drawing provides a little blurb to entice people to enter that particular give-away. But with hundreds of books to choose from, I don't want to read all those blurbs, especially when half of them are just feel-good quotes from big-time reviewers, praising the book to the skies. Yes, yes. There's someone in the world who thought your book was amazing. WHAT'S IT ABOUT?

Back to the point: I judge books by their covers. There. I said it. Each firstreads drawing has only the cover of the book and a couple lines of text to hook me in before I'm on to the next one. If I'm intrigued, I'll read the full blurb and decide if it sounds interesting to me. Of course it's a little different when I'm in a bookstore. At least I know at any given moment the genre I'm looking at. But still, unless it's an author I'm already familiar with, I'm not going to read the back of the book if the cover doesn't grab me. Am I wrong to judge a book by its cover? Maybe. But the fact is, we all do it to some extent. Which leads me to wonder...

What will my books' covers look like? What judgements will others dish out to my work, based on its clothing? It may be a bit premature to be thinking about this but I think when I have to choose a cover for my book, I'd like it to be a cover that I find attractive. I know I'm supposed to want others to be attracted to my book. But I figure, if it looks good to me, it will probably attract people who read the way I read, who like the same things in a book that I like, etc . Maybe there's some kind of formula I should be considering, all about what sells in today's market, and such. I don't know about all that, I just know what I like. And for the fantasy genre, I tend to be attracted  to life-like, gorgeous art, with a lot of play on shadow and light. It should depict a scene from the book, but not a spoiler scene. And there has to be a sword, or some kind of weaponry. I know it's weird, but a book with a sword on the cover always piques my interest.

For The Slave Knight, I imagine a painting of Jhampo as a flesh and blood man (his sword prominently displayed, of course), maybe standing on the deck of a ship, next to a harpoon gun, with a sea monster's head rising out of the water. Or maybe Jhampo (his sword drawn), leading a band of ex-slaves through the forest.  Or maybe Jhampo, kneeling before the throne to receive his knighthood, with the proud, disgruntled gentry looking on.

What kind of a cover draws you to a book? How do you decide what cover art to wrap around your story? How much input does an author actually have in that decision?

1 comment:

  1. I remember talking to an editor friend a few years back and she said, "I swear, if I see one more YA paranormal book with a NECK on it, I'm gonna hurl." Now all I see when I walk down the YA paranormal aisle is NECKS. Crazy. But I'm totally with you, I am VERY influenced by the covers. Sometimes I can get by it and jump into a book without cover-love, but not AS often.
    I hope my cover is drawn by Josh Middleton. That's all I can think of. :)